Social networking software

Can Google+ Really Lead to Greater Online Identity?

Google+'s creepy integration everwhere may extend your online identity when you surf, and its social Circles can be very useful and flexible.

But it remains to be seen how Google's foray into social networking will lead to a stable version of identity online like what Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt talked up at a recent event.

After all, the identity you can build on Google+ right now is almost identical to the one you can build on Facebook -- the same profile, pictures and status updates. The main difference right now is the friends you can add to your Circles, due to the problems Google's been having with letting people into the system, which Schmidt cites as Google+'s biggest hiccup.

Given all the hatred for Facebook over privacy and security snafus, it seems to me the issue on the Internet is not just lack of identity, but lack of control over your personal persona online.

At the recent event, Schmidt shared some of his thoughts on the newly launched Google+. He implied that the Google+ system is designed for building identity -- the real issue of the Internet.

As Tech Crunch reports, Schmidt said Google tried to build a system that you could use for relationships over time. "Circles is particularly well-suited to the contact list you have in your phone," he was quoted as saying.

Schmidt is right about one thing. We don't need another Facebook, and online social interaction could definitely use more authenticity. Schmidt said more products are planned for Google+.

Let's hope they include strong privacy controls and actually useful applications, lest Google+ turns into just another social obligation.

Follow Melanie Pinola (@melaniepinola) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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